Though natural wine has become quite the popular topic, despite its sometimes quirky flavor profiles, many wine connoisseurs still question if it’s pretentious enough to warrant a space on prestigious wine lists. New York City’s Reynard wine director, Lee Campbell, says yes. The highly regarded Sommelier is known for her unique wine selections that reflect her personal taste and expertise. As an advocate for natural wine, she has no problem placing some of her organic picks on some of the hottest restaurant tables in NYC and here’s why.
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“Wine is not inherently natural,” said Campbell, “wine is as commercial as can be. As any other product that we’re buying and putting in our mouth. I think if there was more awareness about how many chemicals actually go into a bottle of wine, there would be a lot less controversy about natural wine.”
Wondering what constitutes natural wine? Natural wine is made with minimal chemical intervention, including the use of additives and overly technological procedures. This means little to no use of chemicals in the field, such as pesticides, like sulfur, or any of the almost 200 allowed additives that are legally permitted in wine. The term is used to distinguish organic wine and bio-dynamic wine because of differences in cellar practices.
Some importers have certain criteria that wine must meet to be considered natural. Their list includes no synthetic molecules in the vines, plowing or other solutions to avoid chemical herbicides, low to no sulfites, and hand-picked grapes to name a few.
BlackEnterprise.com caught up with Lee Campbell to get five of her top natural wine picks for summer, and get this–they are all under $40. See her selections below:
1. Sparkling, Casa Coste Piane, Prosecco “Naturalmente” 2013. The price is relatively inexpensive, coming in around $28 per bottle. Campbell says, “this unfiltered Prosecco is one of the best out there,” and describes its flavor as soft mineral notes intertwined with the subtle stone fruit.
2. White, Domaine du Closel, Savennières “La Jalousie” 2013 (Loire Valley, France). From one of the historic vine sites in the Loire, very elegant and focused white wine perfect for food, and priced at an equally affordable $29.
3. Puzelat-Bonhomme, “KO” Rosé 2014 aslo from Loire Valley, France. Holds a fun and fruity flavor, with ripe-berry notes. “Made by OGs of the natural wine movement,” says Campbell, and can be found for a low of $17 per bottle.
4. Red, Domaine Chamonard, Morgon “Le Clos de Lys” 2013 hailing from Beaujolais, France. At $34, this lighter-bodied, yet lush, wine contains notes of blackberry and a hint of “earthy funk.”
5. Elisabetta Foradori, Teroldego 2012 comes from Trentino, Italy. It is priced at $30 and has a rich and chewy black cherry fruit flavor, with a touch of leather.